Previous studies have shown positive effects of exercise on mental health. A new study has now revealed that regular exercise results in as much as 23% reduction in suicidal thoughts and attempts in bullied students.
Children who fell prey to bullying are also at increased risk for poor academic performance, low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, sadness and substance abuse. Lead study author Jeremy Sibold, associate professor at University of Vermont in the US, said, "I was surprised that it was that significant and that positive effects of exercise extended to kids actually trying to harm themselves. Even if one kid is protected because we got them involved in an after-school activity or in a physical education program it is worth it."
For the study, researchers analyzed data from a survey of 13,583 high school students. Overall, 30% of students in the study reported feeling sad for two or more weeks in the previous year while more than 22% reported suicidal ideation and 8.2% reported actual suicidal attempts during the same time period.
The researchers also observed that bullied students were twice as likely to report sadness, and three times as likely to report suicidal ideation or attempt when compared to peers who were not bullied. But, exercise on four or more days per week was also associated with significant reductions in sadness.
The study said, "Considering the often catastrophic and long lasting consequences of bullying in school-aged children, novel, accessible interventions for victims of such conduct are sorely needed."
The study appeared in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.